Ever have one of those days when everything seems to be flying wild, out of control? For kids, who often don't control their own schedules, life can often feel that way. In second grade, kids start learning how to take control of that chaos by understanding time and its sequences of seconds, minutes, hours, and so on. In this activity, your child will get some planning practice by creating a special "dream day." Then she'll chart each activity in a detailed schedule.
What You Do:
- Pick a day over a weekend that’s wide open for you and your child.
- Tell her that you are giving her 3 whole hours to do anything she wishes. Here’s the catch: your child has to plan out a detailed schedule, along with specific time frames that outline how she wants to spend her 3 hours.
- Brainstorm with your child what an hour is time-wise. How many minutes are in an hour? Provide her with clear examples of what an hour feels like, so she knows how much time she’s dealing with when she schedules the first hour: Does she have an hour-long karate class? Does she have a piano lesson that lasts an hour?
- Help your child get a grasp of this task by breaking the day into three separate hour chunks. Then give your child the lined piece of paper. Draw 3 large rectangular boxes on the paper. Tell your child that each box represents one of the three hours you have together.
- Tell your child to think of a good starting time. Have her write the starting time at the top of the first box. Ask her what time it will be an hour later. Have your child write this time at the top of the first box as well.
- Now your child can plan the first hour! Tell your child that in the first hour you can plan a couple of things, but she has to remember to set aside time for travel, eating, and other transitions. Guide your child with this first hour – she might have some trouble wrapping her head around it. A sample schedule might include a drive to the park (10 minutes), spending some time there (30 minutes), eating a quick breakfast (20 minutes) and before you know it, that first hour is up. Have your child add up all the minutes to see that they equal 60.
- Repeat this process with the other two hours! Again, don’t let your little one get too carried away – you can’t make it to Disney World and back in an hour! Always guide your child and help her understand that you need to break down the hour into separate chunks. Always check to see that the minutes she has set aside do indeed add up to 60.
- Now look back at your three hour schedule and discuss the following: How much time will be spent in the car during our 3 hours? How much time will we spend outside? How much time will we spend eating? Your child will have to add all the time chunks together to come up with the correct answer--a great lesson in word problem computation.
Give your child a sense of accomplishment by typing her schedule up on the computer. Make multiple copies for all the people who will be enjoying this special day. Hang a copy up in a central place--and then go do that dream day!
Vanessa Genova DeSantis has been teaching for fourteen years in public and private school settings in grades 4-8. She's also an educational freelance writer as well as a private tutor for elementary, middle and high school students.